For nearly 50 years, the Volkswagen Golf GTI has been seen as the consummate hot hatch. Over the decades, the car may have change - more power and luxuries, increased safety and economy - but the basic recipe has remained the same. Providing dynamic thrills was always a priority, but the GTI has always been about balancing daily usability with thrill-a-minute performance.
Still, Volkswagen has, since the mid-90's, offered an even more powerful derivative. The first model was the Mk3 VR6, a large-engined hot hatch that still enjoys great popularity as a modern classic. The Mk4 saw the introduction of the R32, which carried on the tradition of using a big, powerful V6 engine.
It was only with the Mk6 model that VW decided to use a turbopetrol 2.0-litre engine. Seen as the halo model in the range, the Golf R has gained cult status across the world, for its impressive ability to outperform bigger, more expensive cars - while remaining as practical as an everyday Golf.
The new model, due in South Africa in 2022, promises all that and more. With 235 kW and 420 Nm of torque, the newcomer is reported to hit 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds. To put this into perspective, this is 1/10th of a second slower than a Ferrari 360 Modena...
So, performance shouldn't be a problem then. But how does it stack up to its rivals? Well, it's more powerful than Audi's S3 (213 kW), the BMW M135i (225 kW) and the Mercedes-AMG A35 (225 kW). What's more, it boasts more torque than the S3 and AMG (which muster up 400 Nm), but is outgunned by the BMW's meaty 450 Nm figure. Only the Mercedes can match it for acceleration, though.
Part of the Golf R's spectacular performance is down to its unique four-wheel drive system: VW's 4Motion with R-Performance Torque Vectoring sends all the power to all four corners via the brand's quick-shifting seven-speed DSG 'box.
Like its key rivals, the 8 R is electronically governed to 250 km/h, but an optional R Performance package will increase that to a sports car rivalling 270 km/h.
Like the GTI, the R will, most likely, be lavishly equipped. Overseas models receive a raft of standard features, including LED headlamps, 18-inch alloy wheels and the brand's digital cockpit pro.
Volkswagen plans on introducing the eagerly awaited Golf R in the second quarter of 2022.
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